Bouldering is a full-body workout, and grip strength is one of the most critical factors to sending a climb. Because of this, climbers’ forearms can feel particularly sore for a few days (or even weeks) after a climbing session. Especially for beginners who have not yet developed any real forearm or grip strength, this is true and today we will cover the different ways to recover forearms after a bouldering or climbing session, along with ways to mitigate forearm pain in the future.
In order to recover the forearm from bouldering, what is the best way to do? Bouldering recovery should include diet, an increase in water and electrolytes, forearm massage, stretching, rest, compression, elevation, and possible physiotherapy if the forearm is hurting very badly. You should also avoid activities such as drinking alcohol, smoking tobacco, and exercising before your forearms have fully recovered. For beginners, the recovery usually takes 3-4 days, however, depending on factors mentioned above, this could take longer. You should be able to recover your forearm faster as you become more experienced.
Continue reading to learn how you can speed up the recovery process of your forearm.
After Rock Climbing or Bouldering, How to Recover Forearms
If you want to speed up the recovery process of your forearm after bouldering or climbing, you should focus on a few different actions. All of the steps in this section will help you recover much faster than you normally would.
Water & Diet
Nutrition is one of the most important ways to support exercise-induced injuries and muscle soreness (Source). A healthy diet, including adequate water consumption, is the key to muscle recovery after a workout. Your liver and muscle glycogen stores need to be replenished, as well as the water and electrolytes lost during sweating. An acute phase of recovery occurs within the first 0-6 hours after a workout or climbing session. (Source).
How can I support the recovery of forearm muscles with a diet? Carbohydrates are the source of glycogen replacement, which occurs as we have said. To repair the sore forearm muscles, you will need some essential amino acids, which can be obtained by eating protein. It is obvious that you may need to adjust the amount consumed depending on your weight and dietary requirements. You should be able to speed up your recovery by following these diet plans according to your needs.
By increasing blood flow to a specific area and reducing muscle tension, deep tissue massage helps muscles recover. Hands can be used for forearm massage, or you can use instruments such as a foam roller or lacrosse ball (links to Amazon).
Using forearm massage can also reduce the severity of muscle pain post-exercise (Source). Therefore, forearm massage makes a great recovery method after climbing or bouldering. Below is a video that will hopefully assist in your recovery – it’s especially helpful if you have a helping hand:
Warming up and stretching
To aid the recovery process of forearms and fingers post-climbing, a variety of stretching techniques can be used. You should not confuse stretching for forearm recovery with stretching for increasing range of motion. The process of stretching to increase range of motion usually includes some pain within the muscles in order to stretch scar tissue, but stretching to increase blood flow to the forearms after climbing should not be painful (Source).
The RICE Method
The RICE method is well known for muscle recovery in general. RICE stands for Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation. You can rest your muscles, apply ice (wrap ice cubes in a towel or use a bag of frozen peas), compress the forearm muscles with a forearm compression sleeve (Link to buy from amazon), in order to reduce swelling.
For a faster recovery of the forearm after climbing, here are some things to stay away from
Alcohol inhibits muscle recovery after exercise by decreasing protein synthesis (Source). You shouldn’t drink alcohol after bouldering if you want your forearm muscles to recover faster.
It has been found that smoking tobacco impairs muscle recovery after exercise (Source). Smokers are more likely to take longer to recover their forearms than non-smokers.
Depriving yourself of sleep
The importance of sleep in recovery cannot be overstated. Diet and exercise are probably the most important parts of your forearm recovery. Sleep deprivation can seriously impact your body’s ability to respond to inflammation and affect your hormones, which, in turn, impacts your ability to recover muscles (Source). Following your climbing workout, you should turn in early for a good night’s sleep to help your forearm muscles recover.
What Causes Your Forearms to Hurt After Climbing?
As a result of holding onto the climbing wall so tightly, your forearms ache after climbing. Finger flexors are the muscles in the hands which extend from the tips of your fingers all the way up to your elbow. Climbers use these finger flexors to grip the wall for long periods of time, many times over the course of a session.
Forearm soreness is normal after climbing since it is just delayed onset muscle soreness. DOMS is thought to be caused by microdamage to muscle fibres caused by muscles working harder than they are used to or in a different way (Source). If you want your forearms to be less sore after climbing, you should climb more often so they can get used to the activity.
What is the best way to strengthen my forearms for bouldering?
You can strengthen your forearms and increase your grip strength by climbing regularly. After climbing regularly for at least six months, you might want to start hangboarding. Your forearms will not only be stronger for bouldering and climbing, but you will also be able to send harder climbs. Hangboards can usually be found at your local climbing gym.
Bouldering Exercises to Increase Forearm Endurance
We like to use the circuit board at my local bouldering gym to increase my forearm endurance while bouldering. Circuit boards present a number of difficulties, and the biggest mistake we see people make is overdoing their workouts too early. The best advice we can give here is to climb the circuit board and stop just before you experience the pump.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):
Why do my forearms hurt after rock climbing?
In a similar fashion to a workout that makes your biceps or legs achi, your forearms have been torn up by climbing causing the achiness! In addition to promoting blood flow to the muscles, massage helps to remove toxins from within the muscles and rebuild the muscle fibers.
How long does it take to recover from bouldering?
Most experts recommend resting between 24 and 72 hours. It will probably take a day to recover after climbing a dozen pitches below your skill level with a friend who is new to the sport.
How do I strengthen my forearms for bouldering?
To strengthen your forearms for bouldering do Tricep Dips.
During tricep dips, place your hands shoulder-width apart on a chair or bench and extend your legs straight out in front of you. When you reach the floor, bend your elbows until they are at a 90-degree angle. You should then extend your elbows to straighten them, and then return to the beginning position.
How do I restore my forearms?
To know how to restore forearms, check out this video.